As one of the most unpredictable and exciting heavy acts going right now, Code Orange knows the power of switching things up. This spirit is not only present on the band's most recent full-length, 2017's Grammy-nominated, Forever — on which the Pittsburgh band was unafraid to mix pit-starting grooves with a glaze of gloom-grunge and industrial white noise — it's a core principle in their personal lives. When Revolver catches up with drummer-vocalist Jami Morgan to talk about his summer tour plans, that mindset is taking the form of spicing up his usual Jiu-Jitsu training routine with a day of powerlifting with bassist Joe Goldman.
"We were just lifting, doing dead lifts and shit," Morgan explains. "Our Jiu-Jitsu school is in the basement of this big powerlifting gym here in Pittsburgh. Some of the guys from up there started training Jiu-Jitsu with us, so they showed us how to lift weights."
After spending part of their spring opening for metal vets Trivium (where they also kept up their training regime thanks to the Florida act's security guy who's an "an ex-MMA fighter," and singer Matt Heafy, also a longtime Jiu-Jitsu devotee), Code Orange are preparing to headline this summer's "The New Reality" tour where they'll be leading a flock of young bloods into the fray.
The tour's diverse bill speaks volumes to Code Orange's commitment to shaking up the status quo. While main bands Twitching Tongues and Vein take a similarly furious hardcore approach as the headliners, each night fans will be treated to left-field options like the terror trap–exploring Ghostemane, gloom rapper Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, art-punk experimentalists Show Me the Body, or the moody, Lana del Rey–esque singer-songwriter Nicole Dollanganger.
Before launching their most ambitious tour yet, Morgan explained to Revolver how Code Orange are more than ready to help usher in a new, all-inclusive musical reality for their fans.
OBVIOUSLY, "THE NEW REALITY" IS THE NAME OF A SONG OFF FOREVER, BUT WHAT DOES THAT PHRASE MEAN TO YOU IN CONTEXT OF THE UPCOMING TOUR?
JAMI MORGAN It's just the new wave, you know what I'm saying? That's what we are. That song is about frustrations we had with the old guard, frustrations with people not wanting to accept change, and people finding ways to go against you. That's why it made sense for the tour, because of the type of tour that it is.
CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT HOW THE TOUR WAS PUT TOGETHER? YOU'VE CURATED AN EXTREMELY DIVERSE LINEUP. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT SELECTING THESE BANDS?
We wanted to do something that stands out. Every time we go out on tour, we want to make it an event. Every couple of months we want to have a piece of interesting news to share with people, to keep everybody engaged. I wanted it to be a mixed bill: It went through a lot of different incarnations before we ended up with this. I'm really happy with it.
THERE'S A CLEAR THROUGH LINE CONNECTING CODE ORANGE TO TWITCHING TONGUES AND VEIN, BUT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE INCLUSION OF GHOSTEMANE — A NOISY TRAP PROJECT — OR WICCA PHASE SPRINGS ETERNAL? HOW DOES HIP-HOP CONNECT TO YOUR WORLD?
I've known Wicca Phase for a long time, he's my friend. He use to sing in this [indie rock] band Tigers Jaw, and he even sang on one of our songs back in the day when we were Code Orange Kids. It's called "Colors" — he sang on that when we were teenagers. I've just known him for a really long time and always loved his voice. His stuff is a little bit out of my purview, but I think its sick.
Ghostemane, on the other hand, I heard he was a fan of us. He sampled a song off our I Am King record, "Dreams in Inertia," for one of his songs a long time ago. A mutual friend told me he was a fan, so I just thought it'd be a cool way to get those kind of fans to a show ... Whether they know it or not, they are representing something that comes from the culture that we're a part of. I want to show them what we're a part of and bridge the worlds. Nicole Dollanganger, I've just been a fan of her for a long time. I just thought it would be a cool mix up, you know.
I didn't just want to do the straight-forward thing. We have bands like Vein and Twitching Tongues — they're pushing it in the hardcore world as well. I think everyone on the tour is doing something a little different.
WHAT ARE THE PROS TO EXPOSING PEOPLE'S MINDS TO ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT GENRES?
To me, it's not necessarily about opening people's minds. I'm not of the school of thought that you can convince someone to go from liking one thing to another. [But] there's definitely a crossover. I feel like a band like us needs to open up our fanbase to things that are more modern ... These type of artists are young and on the cutting edge of what they're doing.
That's the kind of band that we are! We've done a lot of supporting [tours], and we're going to continue to do that to bring in fans of an older generation, but we also need to reach out to young kids. I also just wanted to do a headline tour to see what kind of new fans we've gained since the last one, which was about two years ago now.
CODE ORANGE HAS LIVED BY THE MOTTO "THINNERS OF THE HERD," BUT IT SOUNDS MORE LIKE YOU'RE TRYING TO GROW THE FAMILY.
We're always trying to grown the family. "Thinners of the Herd" doesn't have anything to do with making our fan base smaller. It's more about weeding out bullshit in music and in art, and this whole game. We're doing that by presenting what we think is a cool, interesting alternative. That doesn't mean that it's for everybody! If we were trying to have a smaller fan base, we wouldn't go opening up for this, that, and the other. We're absolutely trying to reach out to as many fans as possible, without sacrificing the integrity of what we want to do. Many things have come across the table that we didn't think went with our moral character … We haven't done those.
IT'S BEEN OVER A YEAR SINCE FOREVER CAME OUT. ARE YOU GOING TO BE PREMIERING ANY NEW MUSIC ON THIS TRIP?
We had a song come out a couple of months ago ["Only One Way"]. We're always working on stuff, we've definitely got stuff coming down the pipeline soon. We're always trying to push ourselves to make stuff that we haven't before … Definitely elements of stuff that we love, but hopefully a concoction that isn't exactly like what came before it, to make our own little imprint on whatever this world of music is.
We practice and we write every single day. We're lucky enough to barely skate by doing this right now. As long as we can do that, and not have to work full time jobs, then we're going to treat it that way, and always be the absolute best we can be.
New York City crew Show Me the Body will be supporting Code Orange on select dates of 'The New Reality' tour. Watch the freak-punks grab breakfast, debate a priest and throw down at art museum below: